With input from NLC’s membership, NLC’s leadership selected this federal agenda to guide NLC’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and with the Administration. The agenda emphasizes the connected nature of federal action and local economic efforts and provides a framework to empower cities to address the challenges we face and move our nation forward.
2016 NLC Federal Action Priorities
NLC calls on Congress to close the online sales tax loophole and pass e-fairness legislation to place brick-and-mortar community businesses on a level playing field with online retailers and afford consumers more choice through fair competition. Allowing local governments the flexibility to collect the taxes already owed to them on remote online purchases removes an unfair disadvantage for local businesses, while helping cities close budget gaps. Collecting owed sales taxes means more money for basic services, such as roads and police officers, without increasing the overall federal deficit.
NLC opposes any attempt to eliminate or limit the traditional tax exemption for municipal bonds, whether as a part of a deficit reduction plan, a push for comprehensive tax reform or as an offset for new spending. As the Administration and Congress look for revenue to reduce the deficit and still fund programs, the federal income tax exemption provided to interest paid on state and municipal bonds (debt) is under threat. In addition to increasing taxes, the federal government can raise revenue by expanding what is subject to being taxed (broadening the base); as an alternative to raising taxes, interest paid on bonds issued by local governments currently not taxed could lose their exemption from taxation.
NLC urges Congress to reform the federal criminal justice system to allow for greater flexibility in sentencing and increased resources to support re-entry programs. Reentry programs tailored to the specific needs of our communities are essential to reduce recidivism and bolster the success of ex-offenders. NLC calls on Congress to pass the "Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015" (S. 2123), which adjusts prison sentences for certain non-violent drug offenders, targets violent criminals, and supports recidivism reduction programs. NLC also support the Second Chance Reauthorization Act (S. 1513/H.R. 3406), which would provide resources to local governments to improve outcomes for individuals returning to communities reducing in recidivism rates.
Many local governments, out of necessity, take ownership of brownfields properties. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities and other stakeholders, giving them the resources they need to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. The EPA Brownfields Program is vital for local governments in aiding their redevelopment efforts and supporting the productive reuse of property which otherwise remains a blight on the community. To strengthen the program, NLC calls on Congress to expand liability protections for local governments that acquire contaminated brownfields sites but had no involvement in the contamination, as well as increase the assistance available under the program.